How coaches can develop their tactical and analytical understanding of the game

One of the most common questions thrown my way is the typical – “How do you know what you know?” or “How did you develop your tactical craft?”. Well, I finally have an answer for you.

In this longform podcast with Sam Holmshaw on The Sports Coaching Podcast, I share how coaches can develop a greater tactical and analytical understanding of the game – by using their own context. If you’re looking to enhance your knowledge as a coach or simply wanting to develop your analytical eye, you don’t want to miss this podcast episode!

We all know and love the chess game of football, but we can all become complacent in thinking we know all their is to know about football – when in actuality, learning is a never-ending process. So why not start within your own context, and assess the problems your team is having – before coming up with potential solutions.

Be sure to also check out Sam’s work on The Sports Coaching Podcast, and my two podcast episodes with the Game Model expert appearing on TMS…

-> Sam Holmshaw – Why everything in coaching needs to fit your context
-> Creating a Game Model – with Sam Holmshaw – TMS Podcast

Also be sure to check out our latest posts, covering a broad range of tactical, analytical and coaching topics!


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While this is an introductory course, it doesn’t matter if you’re an expert or novice, the time to learn starts now. School is in session. I famously love to guarantee results within my work, and I guarantee that you’re going to learn something from this section, even if you’re already the world’s leading expert. In this section, I’m going to drop tips and tricks for getting started in analysis, in addition to coaching, writing, podcasting, and even, if you’re interested, website creation.

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When deployed correctly, the 3-1-3-1 can be one of the most fluid, flexible and fantastic 9v9 formations. Like anything in the beautiful game, team tactics, style of play and intricacies can only evolve within the realms of a team’s own unique characteristics (including players involved, level of opposition, coaching preferences, and more). But if I had my pick of the litter within my squad, this is how I would deploy the 3-1-3-1 formation at the 9v9 level.

Football is more about psychology than tactics

This is not a headline that you would expect to see from a website so devotedly focused on tactics and analysis. But as complex and debatable as this may sound, football is more about psychology than tactics. The best coaches are not always the best tacticians. But the best coaches are always the best motivators. The likes of John Herdman, Emma Hayes, Jose Mourinho and even Jurgen Klopp, rarely ever speak about tactics when expatiating about the game. Instead, they pontificate about the psychology of their teams and players, and their attempts to get the best out of their mentality.

How I coached an unbeaten team

In the summer of 2021, I took a youth team to an unbeaten campaign, in their first ever season playing together. While winning is never the most important part of youth soccer, I share some of the key tips and tricks that allowed me to achieve success with my team and instill a positive culture where each and every player wanted to return. In the first half of the episode, I also discuss the exciting opportunities coming up on TheMastermindSite.com. Follow the show and my body of work @mastermindsite and @desmondrhys! 

How to make substitutions like Pep Guardiola

Fifteen minutes to go in the 2021-22 Premier League season, the title looked likely to change hands for the first time in months, with Liverpool having every chance of stealing top spot away from Manchester City. But then came Pep Guardiola and three inspired second half substitutions, stealing the crown right at the death. Here are three ways to best support the substitution process, and make effective changes to change football matches.

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